Everyone likes to see the word 'fresh' on their food, but when it comes to produce from the supermarket just how fresh is it? The first clue is to look at the origin. If it has taken the slow boat from the far east it is unlikely to have been picked a day or two before, although to be fair a lot is now air freighted within a week to ten days . Not the end of the world, but it is not brilliant and of course there is the huge carbon cost of all that airfreighting. Other items with a low cost per kilo, such as bananas, will be shipped by boat with a probable storage time of 12-14 days.
Naturally, if you see an item in the supermarket that is not in season, it is either been stored since it was in season, or has been shipped in from warmer climes. Lettuce and other leafy salad items for example have most likely come from Holland, Spain or Portugal on a truck. It gets to the shops reasonably quickly – after being washed in a chlorine mix and packed in a modified atmosphere to help with shelf life, but it certainly is not 'naturally' fresh.
Eggs are no better, with most supermarkets supplying eggs that can already be 7-10 days old. Chefs will acknowledge that the taste and texture deteriorates considerably after several days. Small producers and suppliers of food boxes wont have the ability to produce or store huge numbers so they should be really REALLY fresh. If in doubt just ask how old they are!
Foodbox suppliers will offer fresh produce that is in season and probably from their own farm or another nearby grower. Some larger suppliers such as Riverford will bring in out of season produce from farms in France and Spain to accommodate our desire to have any produce at any time of the year. As with the supermarkets, this imported produce wont be as fresh as something growing on your doorstep, however in the case of Riverford, their produce is organic.
It stands to reason, foodboxes offer local, seasonal produce which is going to be very fresh. Supermarkets offer produce from around the globe and have a storage and transport duration attached to them.
The taste and nutritional content of vegetables and salads degrades quickly over time so fresh is always best!